Close Encounter with Pete Sampras
There were three most memorable occasions. They include the Malboro Championships 1994 and Salem Open 1996 in Hong Kong, and the Australian Open 2000.
I first saw Pete play (or any live Pro tennis) when he came here in 1994 for the exhibition. I have always liked his style of play, but not until he autographed my Wimbledon cap did I realize I would forever be a Samprasfanz.
In 1996 Pete returned to the Victoria Park Centre Court to add a silverware to his mantle piece. It was after his second round match win that he was chased by a group of fans who hustled him for autographs. He seemed reluctant and was walking away quickly. While he was walking towards my direction, I shouted, "Hey Pete, sorry to bother you but would you sign this for me?" That was my second autograph from him, on 'his' Nike shirt.
Going to the Oz Open 2000 was a big investment for me "financially". It was my first Grand Slam tournament and I was hoping to witness Pete making history by winning his 13th Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park. I prepared a banner saying "Pistol Pete Playing for History" for the occasion. The only match I saw Pete played was the epic Sampras-Agassi semifinal match. As he sat at his courtside chair drinking his Gatorade after his warm-up, he looked up and stared at our banner for a long while. At that moment, I felt the excitement and satisfaction of Pete actually 'noticing us'.